Raul Maldonado : Vals Criollo
Les Productions D’Oz: 7 pages
Argentinean guitarist/ composer Maldonado has been writing for many years and yet this appears to be the first piece of his that I have seen.
Of course when I saw the title, I immediately thought of the justly famous Antonio Lauro piece that surely most guitarists have played at some time or another. So my immediate reaction was if this new work compares favorably with it.
It begins in A minor at the fast speed of 140 beats a minute, and when the writing consists of almost continuous quavers, quite a difficult piece to get your hands around successfully. For the majority of the time it has two and sometimes three voices sounding at once but almost immediately a number of chromatic notes appear which give the harmonies an almost acidic feel to them, rather than the warm sound you might be expecting. These, together with the ever changing parts, which are, as one might expect, have many off beat rhythms, create an elusive quality to the music, which in my opinion, taints it somewhat, especially as the further go in the piece, the more chromatic, or ‘wrong’ notes appear.
Yes, this is a modern piece, written many decades after the Lauro, so maybe I should expect the harmonies to be more modern but still it felt that much of the music was too acerbic to create the right atmosphere. It is only for a very good player indeed, and if you are expecting a typical Latin American feel , and sound, then you might be disappointed but if you know this man’s music and it is everything you want, then this will no doubt enjoy his latest work.